Warning the following is dark and full of spoilers
And we’re back! I can’t believe Game of Thrones is back. It’s such a marker of time that you know a full year has gone by since you last began a season of this show. That’s a lot of time when there are only ten episodes and with a lot of shows you only have to wait a few months before the next season begins. There is so much build up of excitement, anxiousness, and questions. Then we finally get to the first episode and it’s basically an hour long catch up. We get about five minute segments of “where they are they now?” for each storyline. So many of the characters are in groups or pairs now, so we don’t have quite as many storylines to follow as in previous seasons, but there’s still a lot going on. Let’s jump in and recap.
Ramsay Bolton is still awful to everyone–no surprise there. We meet back up with him having a conversation with his just-as-awful father, Roose Bolton, basically recapping what happened in the season five finale. Sansa and Theon, or “Reek” as Ramsay refers to him as, escape; Ramsay’s army slaughters Stannis Baratheon’s army; and Ramsay’s mistress lays there in front of him, dead after Theon pushed her off the tower. Roose is berating him about all of his failures and reminding him that without Sansa, the North will not ally with the Boltons. I always try to find something about Ramsay to feel bad about but then he says, “she’s good meat, feed her to the hounds,” about his mistress, Miranda, and I’m back to hating him like I should. Roose ends this conversation by reminding Ramsay that his stepmother is hopefully carrying a boy so that the Bolton’s have a better heir, since Ramsay can’t keep a woman and therefore won’t have an heir. So this was Game of Thrones just reminding us that the Bolton’s are still horrible. Nothing we really needed reminding of.
As much as I normally don’t care too much for Theon, I was actually a fan of the Sansa and Theon interactions this episode. One of the big questions from the season five finale was, what happened to them after they jumped off the castle? I knew they couldn’t have died and that their jump was a freedom jump. This segment has some lovely moments. I mean, Theon has a ways to go to redeem himself for his betrayal of the Stark family, but helping Sansa escape and holding her, trying to warm her from the cold, is a nice start. He even tries to sacrifice himself to save her when Ramsay’s men catch up to them, but Sansa was not even 10 feet away, so of course the hounds sniffed her out. Strong effort though, Theon, keep it up.
I probably wasn’t the only one that audibly yelled “YES!” when Brienne and Pod showed up to save Sansa and Theon. Well probably just Sansa, but Theon was there so he got saved too. Brienne and Pod fight and kill all of the guards and Brienne is finally able to pledge her sword to Sansa. She has been trying to do this for a few seasons now, and she is finally here, and it is very emotionally satisfying. But this is a big moment for Sansa too. Sansa has been dealt a very bad hand for the entire series up until now, and now something actually good has happened to her. As someone who has grown to love Sansa over the past five seasons, this was a moment I had been waiting for and it did not disappoint. So maybe this means Sansa can go find some more allies and rule the North like she is meant to. This is a great start for Sansa and Brienne and even Theon, so I’m anxious to see how it all plays out in the rest of the season.
Last we saw Jaime Lannister he was on a boat back to Cersei with his daughter, Myrcella, who died right in front of him from poison. Last we saw Cersei, she was doing a literal walk of shame through King’s Landing. They are reunited in this episode, but it’s not a happy reunion. The moment that Cersei runs to greet Jaime’s ship with excitement to see her daughter again quickly turned to devastation when she sees her dead behind Jaime. What an amazing acting shift–Lena Headey deserves some shoutout for that. Cersei brings up the prophecy she was told from the witch when she was younger about how she would have three children and they would all die. Why she still even had three children is a question I will always ask, but what are you going do? Not every question can be answered. Jaime and Cersei have the “just us, forget everyone else” conversation that they’ve had way too many times, so let’s see if it actually sticks this time. It’s a whole new season full of possibilities.
The ever so lovely Margaery Tyrell makes an appearance but in a not so lovely state. She’s still in a cell asking how her brother Loras is, while a nun is reading her religious passages and telling her to confess. The High Sparrow comes in and basically does the same thing, and asks her if she’s pure. No one is pure in all of Westeros, High Sparrow. No one. Margaery is the queen, just let her go, so she and her Grandmother can have witty responses to everything again and show off their sass. I really am starting to hate that storyline. But it doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.
We travel back to Dorne and find the Sand Snakes still bitter about Oberyn’s death, even though he was dumb and chose to get a confession out of The Mountain instead of just ending him when he was down. So there’s not much to avenge here, since he pretty much chose that death. Elarria Sand is upset her man is dead, of course. But her revenge plot escalates so quickly! If everyone could stop and have a conversation about what happened with Oberyn’s death, this all could be sorted out. There has to be some other underlying reason why she is this upset. But alas, there isn’t a lot of time to touch on that, so she and her daughter kill Doran, the King of Dorne, and his guards, and say “weak men will never rule Dorne again.” That was a pretty epic line. It almost forgives the lack of information we’ve gotten from Dorne. The other two daughters find Trystane, Doran’s heir, and ask him which one of them he wants to kill him. He chooses the daughter with the whip and not the spear, but stands right in front of said spear with his back turned. He of course gets speared through the back of his head. What was he expecting? What a dummy.
Tyrion and Varys take nice stroll through Meereen to check out the land they now own. They discuss the events of last season with the Sons of the Harpy. Tyrion asks the question on all of our minds: “who is leading the Sons of the Harpy?” Hopefully we’ll get an answer this season. It’s always a great time when Tyrion and Varys interact, so I really appreciated this segment with their lovely wit and banter. That is, until we discover that someone has burned all the ships and Tyrion says the one thing that devastates our wishes for the future: “we won’t sail into Westeros any time soon”. One day, Daenerys and Tyrion will get back to westerns and rule the land, but I doubt that day will come this season. But I still like to keep some hope alive.
Speaking of Daenerys, or Dany for short, last we saw her she was getting captured by Dothrakis after she fled on dragonback from the Sons of Harpy. Ser Jorah and Daario paired up to look for her. I really love that they paired up. Daario being Dany’s lover and Ser Jorah being always in love with Dany, I hope they become best friends or fall in love. But I digress.
The Dothrakis are some foul mouthed and sexist people, but this is nothing new. This is a nice change of pace for Dany, who has been strong and trying to rule kingdoms over the course of the series, and now she’s put down to a much lower level. Dany is the widow of Khal Drogo, so she tried to use her thousands of names to get ahead with the Dothrakis. This made sure that she wouldn’t be touched by anyone, but it also got her thrown into a place where all widows of Khals go, which doesn’t sound too fun. I’m interested to see where that goes and if Ser Jorah and Daario catch up and rescue her or just ride off into the sunset together in their own spin off.
Last we saw Arya, she was becoming blind. We find her again begging for change, looking pitiful and very blind. Waif, the girl she met at House of Black and White, shows up with a stick, hands her one and then beats the crap out her because Arya is blind and can’t fight. Waif leaves a defeated Arya and says, “see you tomorrow”, so this is obviously setting up Arya to become a blind badass fighter. She just needed a kick in the butt to begin her training.
We begin and end the episode at Castle Black. The biggest burning question from the end of season five was whether or not Jon Snow was dead after being stabbed numerous times by his fellow men of the Night’s Watch. The episode opens with Ser Davos finding Jon Snow’s cold dead body. So right off the bat, it appears that Jon Snow is dead. With the help of Dolorous Edd, and other lovers of all things Jon Snow, Davos carries Snow’s body to a room and they lock themselves and Ghost in. Melisandre shows up and is so confused and forlorn about Snow being dead when the Lord of Light showed her he was fighting in Winterfell in the future. This could all still happen Melisandre–we don’t know yet.
While this is happening, Alliser Thorne holds a meeting with everyone else and confesses to murdering Jon Snow with the help of many in the room because Jon Snow brought the Wildlings in. Alliser seems like such a great guy, telling everyone he murdered their friend and leader and throwing others under the bus. It also seems there are more supporters of Jon Snow in that meeting, so they should leave and join Davos and the others and start the “I Love Jon Snow” club. Ghost broke my heart, when he was just laying there crying over Jon’s body!
I’m glad the episode came back to Castle Black. There was more we needed from that story to begin the season because that is what we had been waiting for this whole past year of hiatus. We also got the only new piece of information from this entire episode, and that came from Melisandre, which is fitting since the episode is called “The Red Woman”. She seems a bit lost. The Lord of Light she so faithfully worships has lead her to wrong paths. Stannis was not in fact the true king since now he is dead by a tree and Jon Snow is now dead on a table. What is left for her to do now? So she goes to bed. She takes off her robe and then her choker and then apparently her entire youthful appearance. The Red Woman is actually The Red Old Woman. Apparently her choker hides her true old woman self. She doesn’t know what to believe anymore and she wants to start anew to figure that out. Her character took a shift this week, and I think we will start seeing a different person, not just physically with her appearance, but emotionally as well. She won’t be the strong, sure of herself Melisandre this season.
In the age of Netflix original series, where we get the entire season at once, it’s weird to wait this long for a new season of the show and then have to wait a whole week for the next one. I’ve been kind of spoiled in that regard. But with Game of Thrones being the number one favorite show to spoil among the public, I think it’s a safe bet to spread it out because otherwise there would be some all nighters and cranky workers come Monday morning from the binge watching that would have to ensue. Plus, the fun of Game of Thrones is the anticipation and anxiety of what will happen next. It’s worth it to wait each week. I mean, we have to wait an entire year, what’s a week between episodes?
So what did we learn from this episode? Not much we didn’t already know or fear, other than the whole Melisandre-is-really-an-old-woman-using-some-sort-of-youth-giving-magical-necklace thing. I thought she could use her magic to bring Jon back to life. She’s done it before, but I guess now without the Lord of Light, what magic does she have? There must be more to them revealing her true self so early, though, and the fact that Jon’s body is still there and Kit Harrington’s name is in the opening credits. He will be back. I’m calling that now! But speaking of early, it’s only the first episode. No need to get caught up in theories just yet. We have a long journey ahead of us filled with twist and turns. This was one of the better welcome back episodes Game of Thrones has had and I’m excited for the rest of the season and all the heartbreak, destruction and overall debauchery that comes with it!